17 Aug 2004

Fiji police probe plot to free jailed vice-president

6:33 am on 17 August 2004

Fiji police intelligence has uncovered plans by domestic terrorists to stage riots to have the jailed vice president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, freed from prison.

The police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, has told the Daily Post that they are following what he describes as the instigators behind the proposed destabilisation.

Mr Hughes says "rioting, causing injuries and damaging property is tantamount to domestic terrorism" and police will not tolerate a repeat of the unrest which was seen in May 2000.

He says security will remain tight around Suva tomorrow as the Appeal Court hears the bail applications of Seniloli and four others jailed for their role in the coup.

Mr Hughes says police are closely following the situation and if they cannot handle it, he "will call on the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, to deploy his forces."

Mr Hughes says "there is no place for riots" and people "cannot use force to turn around the decision of a proper court."

The commissioner says that "anyone who breaches the law or chooses to cowardly attack some who is defenceless" can rest assured that police will "come down hard on them."